10 ways to avoid penalty fares on trains The horror stories are many.
The pensioner physically dragged, crying, off a crowded train by ray ban like glasses two "revenue protection" goons because she had forgotten her senior citizens railcard. The passengers stung for 20 because there was a queue at the ticket office and they had to hop on without paying or miss the train. The people bullied into paying unfair penalties by empty threats of prosecution and a criminal record. But for some of the privatised rail companies, these 20 fines for not having a ticket have become nice little earners in their own right. One operator made 32million from them last year alone. Another, Stagecoach's South West Trains, sparked outrage when it started judging its guards' job performance by the number of penalty fare warnings they issued. Many passengers complain of a "take no prisoners" attitude, even where travellers have good reasons for not buying a ticket and every intention of paying. They say they are being penalised for train companies' failure to provide adequate station ticket offices, with staff and opening hours cut even as passenger numbers have risen. But what most people do not know and what the train companies are understandably reluctant for us to find out is that more than a few demands for penalty fares are arguably illegal. The railways' new, hard line approach is essentially a gigantic bluff, relying on our ignorance of our rights and our unwillingness to make a fuss when collared. Because you do, in fact, have quite extensive rights not to be charged penalty fares, many of them set out in law. Rights designed, in the words of the Government, to "make sure that the interests of honest passengers are protected". The chances are that if you have a reasonable excuse not to pay a penalty fare, you do not have to pay it whatever a train company's staff may claim. If you are prepared to quote your rights and call their bluff, you will usually prevail. Provided always that you do pay the normal single fare, the chances are that any threats made against you, particularly of criminal prosecution, are hollow. Richard Colbey, a barrister at Lamb Chambers, told the Standard: "The policy is legally dubious. Penalty fares are not enforceable unless a court orders it and a court would be unlikely to do so with someone prepared to make a fuss. There has been no reported case of a train company suing in this way the last thing the rail industry would want is a pronouncement by a judge on its levying of penalty fares." Another leading rail industry lawyer told the Standard that he had himself been threatened with prosecution for not paying a penalty fare. "I wrote them a very polite letter explaining why I had not got a ticket," he said. "I told them to have a go if they felt like it and heard nothing more." I, too, have several times successfully refused to pay penalty fares demanded of me in circumstances which were unreasonable. So here is the Standard's summary of your rights and our advice on avoiding unfair penalty fares. OUR 10 RULES FOR BEATING THE TICKET INSPECTOR This advice is for National Rail services only. TfL has different rules with fewer safeguards. No legal liability is accepted. 1 Make a reasonable effort to buy a ticket before you get on. It will weaken your case if you start from a station where there is a functioning ticket office or machine but make no attempt to use them. This does not, however, mean that you have to wait in a long queue and miss your train. See Rule Eight for the Government's guidance on what constitutes a reasonable waiting time. 2 If asked for a penalty fare, check that you actually have to pay one. There are several non penalty fare locations in London and the South East most importantly, Stansted airport. If your journey started at one of these locations, you cannot be charged a penalty fare. This probably applies even if you changed trains on to a penalty fare service en route (see other box for full details). There are other lines on which one operator has penalty fares and another does not (see box). If, for instance, you are asked for a penalty fare at the excess fares office at Euston and you have arrived on a train run by Virgin, not London Midland, you do not have to pay the penalty. If you forget your season ticket, you do not have to pay a penalty fare. You may be issued with a "nil fare" penalty notice and asked to send in a photocopy of your season, or asked to buy a normal single ticket (which you can then get refunded at a ticket office on production of your season). You can only do this twice a year. If you have a ticket between two places with multiple rail routes (eg London Southend) but it is not valid for the route you are using, you cannot be charged a penalty fare only the difference in price between the routes. If you have a ticket for the right journey but it is not valid on the particular train you are using, this is a grey area. The Department for Transport's "Penalty Fares Policy" (clause 4.29) says you should not be charged a penalty fare, just the difference in price. But the National Rail conditions of carriage say holders of "some types of discounted tickets" can be charged a penalty. It is definitely worth arguing the point. You have the right to ask them to produce the special identification document which proves that they are. 4 Even if they pass these tests, politely refuse to offers on ray ban sunglasses pay the penalty and simply pay the full single fare. On the train or at the station, you have the absolute right to make only "a minimum payment that is equal to the full single fare which cheap ray ban wayfarer sunglasses [you] would have had to pay for [your] journey if penalty fares had not applied." This is section 8 (2) of the Penalty Fares Rules 2002 quote it if anyone tries to tell you different. (The full single fare means the fare without any railcard discounts, cheap offers etc.) Ignore any threats that may be made at this point if you refuse to pay the full sum these are phoney and have no legal basis. 5 Never pay the penalty in the belief that you can recover it on appeal. You are allowed to appeal against a penalty fare to one of two supposedly "independent" bodies. Most operators use the Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service (IPFAS), others the Independent Appeals Service (IAS). But IPFAS is in fact owned by Southeastern Trains, is based at Southeastern's head office and all its staff are Southeastern employees. IAS was also until recently based in railway offices and its company secretary is a director of the company which runs the railways' ticketing system. In short, the appeal process is not independent of the rail operators, is not operated in your interests and is most unlikely to recover your money. 6 Give your correct name, address and journey details. Once you have paid the single fare, the collector will then ask for your name and address so that they can send a demand for the rest to be paid within 21 how much are ray ban glasses days.
They can check names and addresses while you wait with the electoral roll database. The only criminal offence in the whole penalty fares legislation is refusing to give a name and address, or giving a false one. So give the right details.
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